A massive movement against using fossil fuels is taking place all around the world. Germany has created an example for others by taking attempts to shift traditional sources of energy to 100 percent renewable energy. Basically, energy transition is appreciated for reducing carbon emission and facing the challenges of global warming sustainably.
Very recently, Bangladesh has attained the status of low-middle income country from World Bank. Over the last few years, Bangladesh has been enjoying more than 6% economic growth and few days ago it has crossed $1300 per capita income. Now, it is eying to be a middle income country by 2021, with full digitalization. To achieve this vision, Bangladesh will need a bulk of electricity, and government has targeted generating 24000MW, with present capacity of 14000MW.
According to World Bank, about 73% of the energy consumption in Bangladesh comes from fossil fuels. Moreover, it reported that only 60% people in Bangladesh have access to electricity, with 90% access in urban areas and 42% access in rural areas. Almost 70% of the population live in rural areas and government has committed to give access to electricity for everyone.
There were some fallacies, like Bangladesh is floating on gas, and coal would be potential alternative source of energy. But now it is clear that our natural gas will be exhausted within next five or six years if new gas fields are not discovered. In the case of coal we could not yet decide the mining methods. Meanwhile, nuclear energy system can be disastrous for us.
So, it is evident that only fossil fuels, coal and gas will not be sufficient for meeting the energy demand. There is no doubt that the supply of renewable energy needs to be expanded to generate electricity for meeting the increasing energy demands. Massive expansion of renewable energy is not only desirable but also necessary to achieve long term goals.
In this case, Germany has been a role model for the world in energy transition from nuclear and fossil fuel energy to renewable energy. Germany is looking forward to complete renewable energy. In 2015, renewable energy covered 30% of all electricity energy in Germany. The main target of energy transition is to lead the energy sector to a secure, environment-friendly future. Bangladesh has planned to meet 10% of total energy from renewable source by 2021. As Bangladesh is environmentally most vulnerable to climate change, there is no substitute for environment-friendly economy.
It is hopeful that very recently Bangladesh and Germany have agreed to work jointly to ensure micro level energy transition. This will be run under a project where village dwellers will be brought under electricity access by providing a low-cost metering device to individual households with solar-home-systems. This project will enable efficient electricity trading with neighboring households and local business. It is reported that 65 million people do not have access to the national grid in Bangladesh. A large number of people are solely dependent on diesel generators and kerosene lamps etc. On the other hand, Bangladesh is one of the leading countries in number of household solar systems. Solar power has reached more than four million individuals to ensure basic access to electricity over the last 20 years. It is predicted that this system will make users earn additional income by selling their surplus electricity.
In our country, 53% electricity is consumed by residential lines, with industry consumption at only 28%. Moreover, it is reported that the residential sector of Dhaka city alone consumes 48% of all total electricity consumption. It is expected that Dhaka will be the world’s 3rd largest mega city by 2020. Energy transition can be viable option for meeting increasing demands. The urban planning of Dhaka city should be complied with green economy. Solar panel in Dhaka residential areas should be mandatory in building codes. Use of public transport should be encouraged for energy efficiency as private cars consume more fossil fuels.
Regional cooperation may provide a major opportunity for South Asian countries to fulfill energy security through large scale development of energy resources. Regional cooperation can be accompanied by sharing technologies and renewable energy resources. Most importantly regional renewable fund can be a timely initiative for South Asian countries like Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal etc.
Bangladesh is a country with a lot of potential. But infrastructural backwardness and lack of proper planning are the constraints on the way of exploring all the potentials. We are marching towards vision 2021 and it is high time to change the energy policy from fossil fuels to renewable energy for sustainable development. Combined efforts from public and private sectors can make things easier and viable. So it is the demand of the day to make transition of energy system in Bangladesh towards renewable energy for better future.